CREATURE FEATURE: Jackass Penguin

The Jackass Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is commonly known as the African Penguin or the Black-Footed Penguin. It is a flightless bird only found off the South Africa coastline, living in colonies on 23 islands.

It is called a jackass penguin because it sounds like a donkey braying.

The Jackass Penguin is a small black and white penguin of about 60–70 centimetres (24–28 inches) tall, with a streamlined body. It has pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black face mask. The upper body is black and the under body is white. The under body is spotted with a black band.

The Jackass Penguin has black feet and unique black spots for each penguin.

The pink glands above its eyes are used for thermoregulation, to keep it warm in the cold waters, and cool in hot temperatures. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood is sent to these glands which become pinker, and then the Jackass Penguin is cooled by the air.

Jackass Penguin

Jackass Penguin

The Jackass Penguin is an excellent diver, living on fish (such as pilchards and anchovies) and squid. The Jackass Penguin does not swim in deep water. It stays close to the coast, up to about 20 kilometres from the shore.

The Jackass Penguin has only one mate, so it is monogamous. The female lays two eggs on the ground in the sand or under bushes. Both parents incubate the eggs, which take about 40 days to hatch.

At least one parent guards the chicks until they are about 30 days old. After that, the chicks join a nursery, or crèche, with other chicks from other parent penguins. Then both parents go to sea to look for food each day.

Chicks get their full feathers by 60-130 days. When they have their feathers, which are waterproof, they can swim in the sea.

Penguins moult (molt) which means that they lose their feathers and gain new ones. That takes about 20 days, and during this time they cannot swim. They spend most of their lives at sea. They come to land to lay their eggs.

 

 

Jackass Penguin

Jackass Penguins

 

 

 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

 

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